State Aid to Private SchoolsThank you for publishing...


April 24, 1993

State Aid to Private Schools

Thank you for publishing Shaila R. Aery's April 13 column on behalf of continued state aid for private colleges and universities. This is a serious issue and it should be fully examined.

One of Dr. Aery's most valuable observations was to point out the naivete of those who assume the $25 million appropriation to private colleges and universities would automatically be transferred to public institutions. She is right in her assertion that all sorts of agencies and interests across the state would compete for these funds.

One cannot help feeling, however, that wherever that $25 million went, it would be going to a worthier source than the coffers of private schools.

Dr. Aery suggests that ''most other states do not realize the value of private higher education and the importance of ensuring its viability.'' I never suspected that the state of North Carolina undervalued my alma mater, Duke University, despite the fact that North Carolina didn't give Duke a red cent; I just figured North Carolina expected a private school to be just that -- a private school, with private, independent sources of income.

That private schools contribute to the prosperity and well-being of the states in which they lie is unquestionable, but it is no more reason to put them in your annual budget than it would be to put McCormick's or Black and Decker in that budget.

Remember this about private schools: They don't charge in-state students a cent less in tuition and fees than they charge out-of-state students. Furthermore, many private colleges, in an

effort to create a broad geographical distribution in their student body, set higher standards for in-state applicants.

As Dr. Aery herself acknowledges, Maryland is indeed among a small number of states that fund private schools. Maryland is among the five most generous states in its funding of such schools; it's a lot further down the list in its funding of public schools, and it's slipping further down every year.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that public and private colleges don't play on a level field. When public schools go to this state's wealthiest sources of private revenue they are likely to be told that said sources only give to private schools. ''My tax money goes to the public schools,'' many philanthropists say, unaware that it goes to private schools as well.

The result of this imbalance is inevitable and obvious: Maryland's private schools simply do not face the crises faced by its public schools. No one has been furloughed in the private schools. No one has missed a pay increase -- even a cost-of-living increase -- for the past three years at a private school. And, irony of ironies, no one has faced a state Board of Regents ultimatum to cut programs at a private college.

No one faces these threats at private colleges, because the state has nowhere near the degree of influence over such colleges as it has on the public schools. And that's exactly as it should be. But that independence should come at a cost.

Purely and simply put, private schools in Maryland ought to get their noses out of the public trough.

George S. Friedman


The writer is president of the AAUP/Faculty Association at Towson State University.

Comcast Charges Too Much For Too Little

The Sun and The Evening Sun are to be congratulated for their April 13 editorials pointing out the advantages to the consumer of competition in cable television. Having been a Comcast subscriber for 14 years, cable operators' duplicity and arrogance are legend around my house.

In Baltimore County, a package that includes "expanded" basic service, Home Team Sports and Disney (38 channels) costs $51.59 a month. "Expanded" basic costs $25.36, HTS $16.79 and Disney $9.44. That rounds out to $1.36 per channel per month.

Your editorial pointed out that the same package and more (53 channels, including HTS and Disney) costs $21.20 (40 cents per channel per month) in Anne Arundel County. The cost discrepancy stems from Comcast's monopoly in Baltimore County.

As any Comcast subscriber can attest, the more costly service leaves a lot to be desired. You get a faded-out picture on all channels (compared to my satellite dish), and a totally inadequate picture on others; e.g., the signal on WDCA (Washington Channel 20) is so bad that I watch the backhaul on the dish when a Caps game is on.

It almost always takes a wait of up to 30 minutes to reach the service desk, then the Comcast representative insists on coming into the caller's house first, usually in a few days, despite the fact that everybody on the street or even throughout the west side feed area has the same problem now.

As a hockey fan, I enjoy watching the Capitals' telecasts on HTS. HTS is turned on daily by a timer that is set, except for Sundays during the baseball season, to kick in at 3 p.m. However, the Caps sometimes play at noon (Super Bowl Sunday), at 1 or 1:30 p.m. (New Years Day and selected Sundays late in the season).

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